The World Health Organization has ranked Saudi Arabia as having the second highest rate of diabetes in the Middle East (7th highest in the world) with an estimated population of 7 million living with diabetes and more than 3 million with pre-diabetes. This presents a pressing public health problem. Several challenges in diabetes management need to be tackled in Saudi Arabia, including the growing prevalence (chiefly among children and young adults), micro-and macrovascular complications, lifestyle changes, late diagnosis, poor awareness and high treatment costs. Over the last two decades, the Saudi population saw an increase in the expenses in healthcare and treatment of diabetes by more than 500%. In 2014, the health care budget was 180 billion (Saudi Riyal) of which 17 billion was spent on all Saudis, with an approximate 25 billion on the entire Saudi diabetic population. This implies that the direct expense of diabetes is costing Saudi Arabia around 13.9% of the total health expenditure. Therefore, unless a comprehensive epidemic control program/ multidisciplinary approach is stringently enforced, the diabetes mellitus burden on Saudi Arabia will probably increase to very serious levels. It is crucial to implement improved health and health-related quality of life of to those with diabetes, thus minimizing the social and personal expenses for diabetes care in Saudi Arabia. In this study we discuss the significant and major threats posed by diabetes mellitus to the Saudi population and recommend essential possible solutions to delay/ prevent this formidable issue.
Keywords: Type 2 diabetes, epidemiology, diabetes complication, self-management, healthcare, saudi arabia.